We finished off Kainaz's birthday celebrations with a dinner at Tetsuma. This is a fairly new, Japanese restaurant behind the Radio Club at Colaba, Mumbai.
The Japanese food fad is new to Bombay and is yet to penetrate deep. The high prices and the lack of awareness (often limited to notions of raw fish) have probably slowed its popularity. Tetsuma was all of these. It was expensive. We had raw fish. And a host of other tasty dishes.
The decor was quaint with paper screens separating the tables and tiny little Japanese ponds with lotus in the restaurant and nice arrangements of white pebbles and chopsticks on the tables. It was fairly dark as they had a candle light theme. This made it a bit difficult to read the menu as the font size was quite small. I felt a bit disconcerted by the fact that only one more table was occupied on a Friday night at 9.30 PM. Though I must say the place began to fill by 10.30 PM. I was also a bit irritated by the fact that the waiter who took our order in the beginning was a bit clueless. This is especially a problem in a speciality restaurant where one is a bit unsure about what to order. For example, when I asked him for the difference between a sushi and a maki sushi all he could say was that the maki sushi plate has six pieces. This is the sort of thing which bugs me in a restaurant, especially an expensive one. Though this improved as the dinner progressed as we got someone else.
I started with a saki apple and vodka martini which was so mild that it tasted only of apple juice and I followed it with some red wine.
We started our dinner with sashimi. This was a platter of raw fish - halibut, cod and salmon. The fish was very tender. in fact one's teeth just sunk through it as we ate it. It didn't smell fishlike at all. Both of us really enjoyed this as it was truly different. What I appreciated was that they served it on a bed of crushed ice. This is important given the warm weather in Bombay as raw fish would be a breeding ground for bacteria. In fact, I have often had smoked salmon at five star buffets which have led to very angry and expressive stomachs.
The photo doesn't look too good thanks to the poor lighting but they get better.
Now this is where my service irritations surfaced again as I had to ask for the soy to dip the wasabi in and a dish for the same and for the sweet ginger slices. Now I have had sushi and sashumi before at Bangkok and Singapore and somewhat knew what to do. But I strongly feel that a lot more hand holding is required in a place like this.
I next had a black caviar sushi. This was a visual treat and tasted great too. I could feel the caviar burst in my mouth as I bit into it. I also remembered my days in Iran in the late seventies when we used to have caviar the way one has peanuts in Bombay. Kainaz felt that one should pop the entire sushi into one's mouth at one go. I broke it into bits and had it. I must confess that I used my fork as I am not very comfortable with chopsticks.
We followed this with a golden fried tiger prawn with tempura sauce. I liked the batter but felt that the prawns could have been flavoured/ salted better. I also felt the tempura sauce to be too bland and had mine with some wasabi. Both of us felt was that this was the least special of the dishes that we had that night.
This is when we came across a waiter who knew his way around. He recommended that we take the yasi udon when we asked for something different in noodles. These were buckwheat noodles and were cooked in a sweetish teriyaki sauce which was quite unique and very tasty. He also recommended that we take a vegetarian noodles as we were ordering a meat side dish. This is what I like. A man with a point of view.
We had this with the most heavenly ginger roasted pork. This preparation was so different from roast pork preparations in Chinese restaurants (which are normally reddish). Here the pork was served in slices reminiscent to slices of ham. It was deep fried and was very delicately flavoured. Both Kainaz and I loved this. It was so tender and succulent.
They had some dessert options but we decided to go home for the remaining Oberoi cake.
All in all, it was a nice, romantic dinner with dishes which were fairly unique and befitting of a special treat.
The average price of the dishes were Rs 400 to 600 (USD 10 to 15) and the drinks ranged from Rs 300 to 500 (USD 7 to 13).